Know How...

May 2nd 2013

Know How... 42

Video Compression with Handbrake

Learn how to use the free, cross-platform video converter Handbrake to get the best results.
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In this video, we took a deep dive into the free cross-platform video conversion tool Handbrake. Iyaz likes to get as much as he can out of his source videos to create portable, streamable copies of movies and TV shows.

Tweaking your video

When you're compressing video, the resulting video file is what you'll be watching again and again. Why not make sure you have the best quality video? After you choose a source video, definitely check out the "Preview Window." You can generate a live preview to see if your resulting video will have any weirdness like interlacing.

If you see some oddities like interlacing, check out Picture Settings > Filters. Here you can alter some parameters to fine tune your video.

    Useful Terms:
  • Detelecine: This has to do with how the video is interlaced when framerates are changed around. See Handbrake's wiki for a technical explanation.
  • Decomb: Similar to Detelecine, this looks at every pixel. While having better results, it will slow down your encode.
  • Picture Settings > Size. The Strict option ensures that the aspect ratio conforms exactly to the ratio of the original movie. A Loose setting alters the dimensions so they are more efficiently encoded.
  • Crop: Will automatically remove black bars you'd have in your source video.

Video conversion

Video quality: RF vs. Bitrate. Handbrake added an RF option which means constant quality. Why would you pick one over the other? Handbrake says RF is quicker and produces the same quality as a 2 pass encode. In our experience, we haven't found that to be exactly the case. Iyaz is a tinkerer and still uses the bitrate option for fine tuning. The data rate for DVD movies ranges from 3 Mbps to 9.5Mbps. So if you're going to make your own copy, you shouldn't exceed the original bitrate since you won't be gaining any quality.

Learn more about Handbrake's suggestions for Constant Quality here.

Audio options

Did you know you can bake in multiple audio streams in your video? You can. If you're a DVD commentary fan, you should make use of this tab. VLC is always a great media player option if you want to listen to those other audio tracks on your computer.


You can also have your video file contain subtitles and captions if you want. Handbrake is capable of baking the subtitles right onto the video if you use the "Burned In" option. We don't recommend that unless you really want to have your those captions in there.

Queuing your videos

After re-compressing his entire video library, Iyaz has a word of advice on queuing your video compressions. Try queuing maybe 15-20 files at a time and check your resulting files.

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Thanks to Cachefly for the bandwidth for this show. Runtime:25:16